Just as the 12th Doctor prepared to transform into the 13th, he gave a great speech about how his future self must “never fail to be kind.” He also dissed one of the most delicious fruits in existence. “Never ever eat pears!” said the incumbent Doctor Who Time Lord. But why? Pears are totally delicious, right? Did the Doctor have a run-in with an alien made of pears?
Nope. Turns out this was a small Easter egg not only to a previous Peter Capaldi Who episode, but also, a beloved David Tennant episode from nearly a decade ago. And... to a Doctor Who novel from the ‘90s. Yep, this reference was bigger on the inside.
In the third season episode “Human Nature,” the Doctor (then David Tennant) was briefly transformed into a human named “John Smith,” who possessed none of the Doctor’s memories. In a deleted scene, the Doctor told Martha to “never let me eat pears,” because he just hated them. In the two-part episode, the Doctor actually did eat a pear, a sign that he was truly not himself.
Then, in the Sea9 son 9 episode “Hell Bent,” the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) told Clara to never eat pears. This was right before he lost his memories of Clara, memories which were restored by the time-traveling A.I. called Testimony in the latest episode, “Twice Upon a Time.” So, perhaps the pear diss referenced both the David Tennant deleted scene from “Human Nature” and the erased Clara memories from “Hell Bent.”
Notably, “Human Nature” was written by Paul Cornell, which was adapted from his Doctor Who novel of the same name, originally published in 1995, a time in which Doctor Who wasn’t airing any new episodes on television. Cornell’s original novel featured Sylvester McCoy’s 7th Doctor also losing his memory and becoming human in nearly the exact same plot as the later 2007 David Tennant episode. Both versions of “Human Nature” and “Hell Bent” deal with the nature of the Doctor’s memories,, and in “Twice Upon a Time” memories are essentially the entire thematic focus of the episode.
Back in 2012 Cornell also launched a personal initiative called “Panel Parity” in which he vowed to no longer participate in panels at science fiction or comic conventions where there wasn’t a clear representation of women on any panel. “If I’m on, at any convention this year, a panel that doesn’t have a 50/50 gender split (I’ll settle for two out of five), I’ll hop off that panel, and find a woman to take my place,” he wrote.
So, the Doctor referenced hating pears in his final speech before becoming a woman for the first time. The guy who started the whole trend of the Doctor hating pears also has a history of standing up for gender parity in the science fiction community. Was this an intentional connection? Probably not. But still, as the new Doctor might say, it’s brilliant.